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1.  Metaproteomics: Harnessing the power of high performance mass spectrometry to identify the suite of proteins that control metabolic activities in microbial communities 
Analytical chemistry  2013;85(9):4203-4214.
The availability of extensive genome information for many different microbes, including unculturable species in mixed communities from environmental samples, has enabled systems-biology interrogation by providing a means to access genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic information. To this end, metaproteomics exploits the power of high performance mass spectrometry for extensive characterization of the complete suite of proteins expressed by a microbial community in an environmental sample.
PMCID: PMC3696428  PMID: 23469896
2.  Role of the CipA Scaffoldin Protein in Cellulose Solubilization, as Determined by Targeted Gene Deletion and Complementation in Clostridium thermocellum 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(4):733-739.
The CipA scaffoldin protein plays a key role in the Clostridium thermocellum cellulosome. Previous studies have revealed that mutants deficient in binding or solubilizing cellulose also exhibit reduced expression of CipA. To confirm that CipA is, in fact, necessary for rapid solubilization of crystalline cellulose, the gene was deleted from the chromosome using targeted gene deletion technologies. The CipA deletion mutant exhibited a 100-fold reduction in cellulose solubilization rate, although it was eventually able to solubilize 80% of the 5 g/liter cellulose initially present. The deletion mutant was complemented by a copy of cipA expressed from a replicating plasmid. In this strain, Avicelase activity was restored, although the rate was 2-fold lower than that in the wild type and the duration of the lag phase was increased. The cipA coding sequence is located at the beginning of a gene cluster containing several other genes thought to be responsible for the structural organization of the cellulosome, including olpB, orf2p, and olpA. Tandem mass spectrometry revealed a 10-fold reduction in the expression of olpB, which may explain the lower growth rate. This deletion experiment adds further evidence that CipA plays a key role in cellulose solubilization by C. thermocellum, and it raises interesting questions about the differential roles of the anchor scaffoldin proteins OlpB, Orf2p, and SdbA.
PMCID: PMC3562095  PMID: 23204466
3.  Caldicellulosiruptor Core and Pangenomes Reveal Determinants for Noncellulosomal Thermophilic Deconstruction of Plant Biomass 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(15):4015-4028.
Extremely thermophilic bacteria of the genus Caldicellulosiruptor utilize carbohydrate components of plant cell walls, including cellulose and hemicellulose, facilitated by a diverse set of glycoside hydrolases (GHs). From a biofuel perspective, this capability is crucial for deconstruction of plant biomass into fermentable sugars. While all species from the genus grow on xylan and acid-pretreated switchgrass, growth on crystalline cellulose is variable. The basis for this variability was examined using microbiological, genomic, and proteomic analyses of eight globally diverse Caldicellulosiruptor species. The open Caldicellulosiruptor pangenome (4,009 open reading frames [ORFs]) encodes 106 GHs, representing 43 GH families, but only 26 GHs from 17 families are included in the core (noncellulosic) genome (1,543 ORFs). Differentiating the strongly cellulolytic Caldicellulosiruptor species from the others is a specific genomic locus that encodes multidomain cellulases from GH families 9 and 48, which are associated with cellulose-binding modules. This locus also encodes a novel adhesin associated with type IV pili, which was identified in the exoproteome bound to crystalline cellulose. Taking into account the core genomes, pangenomes, and individual genomes, the ancestral Caldicellulosiruptor was likely cellulolytic and evolved, in some cases, into species that lost the ability to degrade crystalline cellulose while maintaining the capacity to hydrolyze amorphous cellulose and hemicellulose.
PMCID: PMC3416521  PMID: 22636774
4.  Clostridium thermocellum ATCC27405 transcriptomic, metabolomic and proteomic profiles after ethanol stress 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:336.
Clostridium thermocellum is a candidate consolidated bioprocessing biocatalyst, which is a microorganism that expresses enzymes for both cellulose hydrolysis and its fermentation to produce fuels such as lignocellulosic ethanol. However, C. thermocellum is relatively sensitive to ethanol compared to ethanologenic microorganisms such as yeast and Zymomonas mobilis that are used in industrial fermentations but do not possess native enzymes for industrial cellulose hydrolysis.
In this study, C. thermocellum was grown to mid-exponential phase and then treated with ethanol to a final concentration of 3.9 g/L to investigate its physiological and regulatory responses to ethanol stress. Samples were taken pre-shock and 2, 12, 30, 60, 120, and 240 min post-shock, and from untreated control fermentations for systems biology analyses. Cell growth was arrested by ethanol supplementation with intracellular accumulation of carbon sources such as cellobiose, and sugar phosphates, including fructose-6-phosphate and glucose-6-phosphate. The largest response of C. thermocellum to ethanol shock treatment was in genes and proteins related to nitrogen uptake and metabolism, which is likely important for redirecting the cells physiology to overcome inhibition and allow growth to resume.
This study suggests possible avenues for metabolic engineering and provides comprehensive, integrated systems biology datasets that will be useful for future metabolic modeling and strain development endeavors.
PMCID: PMC3478167  PMID: 22823947
5.  Use of Label-Free Quantitative Proteomics To Distinguish the Secreted Cellulolytic Systems of Caldicellulosiruptor bescii and Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(12):4042-4054.
The extremely thermophilic, Gram-positive bacteria Caldicellulosiruptor bescii and Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis efficiently degrade both cellulose and hemicellulose, which makes them relevant models for lignocellulosic biomass deconstruction to produce sustainable biofuels. To identify the shared and unique features of secreted cellulolytic apparatuses from C. bescii and C. obsidiansis, label-free quantitative proteomics was used to analyze protein abundance over the course of fermentative growth on crystalline cellulose. Both organisms' secretomes consisted of more than 400 proteins, of which the most abundant were multidomain glycosidases, extracellular solute-binding proteins, flagellin, putative pectate lyases, and uncharacterized proteins with predicted secretion signals. Among the identified proteins, 53 to 57 significantly changed in abundance during cellulose fermentation in favor of glycosidases and extracellular binding proteins. Mass spectrometric characterizations, together with cellulase activity measurements, revealed a substantial abundance increase of a few bifunctional multidomain glycosidases composed of glycosidase (GH) domain family 5, 9, 10, 44, or 48 and family 3 carbohydrate binding (CBM3) modules. In addition to their orthologous cellulases, the organisms expressed unique glycosidases with different domain organizations: C. obsidiansis expressed the COB47_1671 protein with GH10/5 domains, while C. bescii expressed the Athe_1857 (GH10/48) and Athe_1859 (GH5/44) proteins. Glycosidases containing CBM3 domains were selectively enriched via binding to amorphous cellulose. Preparations from both bacteria contained highly thermostable enzymes with optimal cellulase activities at 85°C and pH 5. The C. obsidiansis preparation, however, had higher cellulase specific activity and greater thermostability. The C. bescii culture produced more extracellular protein and additional SDS-PAGE bands that demonstrated glycosidase activity.
PMCID: PMC3131623  PMID: 21498747
6.  Proteomic Characterization of Cellular and Molecular Processes that Enable the Nanoarchaeum equitans-Ignicoccus hospitalis Relationship 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22942.
Nanoarchaeum equitans, the only cultured representative of the Nanoarchaeota, is dependent on direct physical contact with its host, the hyperthermophile Ignicoccus hospitalis. The molecular mechanisms that enable this relationship are unknown. Using whole-cell proteomics, differences in the relative abundance of >75% of predicted protein-coding genes from both Archaea were measured to identify the specific response of I. hospitalis to the presence of N. equitans on its surface. A purified N. equitans sample was also analyzed for evidence of interspecies protein transfer. The depth of cellular proteome coverage achieved here is amongst the highest reported for any organism. Based on changes in the proteome under the specific conditions of this study, I. hospitalis reacts to N. equitans by curtailing genetic information processing (replication, transcription) in lieu of intensifying its energetic, protein processing and cellular membrane functions. We found no evidence of significant Ignicoccus biosynthetic enzymes being transported to N. equitans. These results suggest that, under laboratory conditions, N. equitans diverts some of its host's metabolism and cell cycle control to compensate for its own metabolic shortcomings, thus appearing to be entirely dependent on small, transferable metabolites and energetic precursors from I. hospitalis.
PMCID: PMC3149612  PMID: 21826220
7.  Insights into plant biomass conversion from the genome of the anaerobic thermophilic bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii DSM 6725 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(8):3240-3254.
Caldicellulosiruptor bescii DSM 6725 utilizes various polysaccharides and grows efficiently on untreated high-lignin grasses and hardwood at an optimum temperature of ∼80°C. It is a promising anaerobic bacterium for studying high-temperature biomass conversion. Its genome contains 2666 protein-coding sequences organized into 1209 operons. Expression of 2196 genes (83%) was confirmed experimentally. At least 322 genes appear to have been obtained by lateral gene transfer (LGT). Putative functions were assigned to 364 conserved/hypothetical protein (C/HP) genes. The genome contains 171 and 88 genes related to carbohydrate transport and utilization, respectively. Growth on cellulose led to the up-regulation of 32 carbohydrate-active (CAZy), 61 sugar transport, 25 transcription factor and 234 C/HP genes. Some C/HPs were overproduced on cellulose or xylan, suggesting their involvement in polysaccharide conversion. A unique feature of the genome is enrichment with genes encoding multi-modular, multi-functional CAZy proteins organized into one large cluster, the products of which are proposed to act synergistically on different components of plant cell walls and to aid the ability of C. bescii to convert plant biomass. The high duplication of CAZy domains coupled with the ability to acquire foreign genes by LGT may have allowed the bacterium to rapidly adapt to changing plant biomass-rich environments.
PMCID: PMC3082886  PMID: 21227922
8.  The Protein Network Surrounding the Human Telomere Repeat Binding Factors TRF1, TRF2, and POT1 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12407.
Telomere integrity (including telomere length and capping) is critical in overall genomic stability. Telomere repeat binding factors and their associated proteins play vital roles in telomere length regulation and end protection. In this study, we explore the protein network surrounding telomere repeat binding factors, TRF1, TRF2, and POT1 using dual-tag affinity purification in combination with multidimensional protein identification technology liquid chromatography - tandem mass spectrometry (MudPIT LC-MS/MS). After control subtraction and data filtering, we found that TRF2 and POT1 co-purified all six members of the telomere protein complex, while TRF1 identified five of six components at frequencies that lend evidence towards the currently accepted telomere architecture. Many of the known TRF1 or TRF2 interacting proteins were also identified. Moreover, putative associating partners identified for each of the three core components fell into functional categories such as DNA damage repair, ubiquitination, chromosome cohesion, chromatin modification/remodeling, DNA replication, cell cycle and transcription regulation, nucleotide metabolism, RNA processing, and nuclear transport. These putative protein-protein associations may participate in different biological processes at telomeres or, intriguingly, outside telomeres.
PMCID: PMC2928292  PMID: 20811636

Results 1-8 (8)